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Disease Profile

Mal de debarquement syndrome

Prevalence estimates on Rare Medical Network websites are calculated based on data available from numerous sources, including US and European government statistics, the NIH, Orphanet, and published epidemiologic studies. Rare disease population data is recognized to be highly variable, and based on a wide variety of source data and methodologies, so the prevalence data on this site should be assumed to be estimated and cannot be considered to be absolutely correct.


US Estimated

Europe Estimated

Age of onset

All ages





Autosomal dominant A pathogenic variant in only one gene copy in each cell is sufficient to cause an autosomal dominant disease.


Autosomal recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of each gene of the chromosome are needed to cause an autosomal recessive disease and observe the mutant phenotype.


dominant X-linked dominant inheritance, sometimes referred to as X-linked dominance, is a mode of genetic inheritance by which a dominant gene is carried on the X chromosome.


recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of a gene on the X chromosome cause an X-linked recessive disorder.


Mitochondrial or multigenic Mitochondrial genetic disorders can be caused by changes (mutations) in either the mitochondrial DNA or nuclear DNA that lead to dysfunction of the mitochondria and inadequate production of energy.


Multigenic or multifactor Inheritance involving many factors, of which at least one is genetic but none is of overwhelming importance, as in the causation of a disease by multiple genetic and environmental factors.


Not applicable


Other names (AKA)

MdDS; Mal de debarquement; Sickness of disembarkment;


Ear, Nose, and Throat Diseases; Nervous System Diseases


Mal de debarquement syndrome is a neurological disorder that most commonly develops following an ocean cruise or other type of water travel and less commonly following air travel, train travel, or other motion experiences. The symptoms typically reported include: persistent sensation of motion such as rocking, swaying, and/or bobbing, difficulty maintaining balance, anxiety, fatigue, unsteadiness, and difficulty concentrating. The symptoms may be last anywhere from a month to years. Symptoms may or may not go away with time; however, they may reoccur following another motion experience or during periods of stress or illness.[1] Although there is no known cure for mal de debarquement syndrome, there is evidence that some patients have responded positively to antidepressants or antiseizure medications. Customized vestibular therapy and exercise routines may also be effective.[2]


Treatment options for mal de debarquement syndrome (MdDS) are limited.[3][4][5][6] Most drugs that work for other forms of dizziness do not work for MdDS. On some cases, medications classified as vestibular suppressants, such as anti-depressants and antiseizure medications, may be used.[2] Customized vestibular therapy like optokinetic stimulation has been effective in some cases.[2][4] In recent years, a renewed interest in understanding the underlying cause of MdDS has led to new treatment options, including repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation.[5] More studies into these treatment options are needed.


Support and advocacy groups can help you connect with other patients and families, and they can provide valuable services. Many develop patient-centered information and are the driving force behind research for better treatments and possible cures. They can direct you to research, resources, and services. Many organizations also have experts who serve as medical advisors or provide lists of doctors/clinics. Visit the group’s website or contact them to learn about the services they offer. Inclusion on this list is not an endorsement by GARD.

Organizations Supporting this Disease

    Social Networking Websites

      Learn more

      These resources provide more information about this condition or associated symptoms. The in-depth resources contain medical and scientific language that may be hard to understand. You may want to review these resources with a medical professional.

      Where to Start

      • MedlinePlus was designed by the National Library of Medicine to help you research your health questions, and it provides more information about this topic.
      • The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) conducts and supports biomedical and behavioral research and research training in the normal and disordered processes of hearing, balance, smell, taste, voice, speech, and language. Click on the link to view information on this topic.
      • The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) has a report for patients and families about this condition. NORD is a patient advocacy organization for individuals with rare diseases and the organizations that serve them.

        In-Depth Information

        • The Monarch Initiative brings together data about this condition from humans and other species to help physicians and biomedical researchers. Monarch’s tools are designed to make it easier to compare the signs and symptoms (phenotypes) of different diseases and discover common features. This initiative is a collaboration between several academic institutions across the world and is funded by the National Institutes of Health. Visit the website to explore the biology of this condition.
        • Orphanet is a European reference portal for information on rare diseases and orphan drugs. Access to this database is free of charge.
        • PubMed is a searchable database of medical literature and lists journal articles that discuss Mal de debarquement syndrome. Click on the link to view a sample search on this topic.

          Selected Full-Text Journal Articles


            1. About Mal de Débarquement Syndrome. MdDS Foundation. https://mddsfoundation.org/about/. Accessed 1/11/2018.
            2. Kramer J. Mal de Debarquement. National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). 2017; https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/mal-de-debarquement/.
            3. Cha YH. Mal de debarquement syndrome: new insights. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2015 Apr; 1343:63-8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25726862.
            4. Dai M, Cohen B, Smouha E, Cho C. Readaptation of the Vestibulo-Ocular Reflex Relieves the Mal De Debarquement Syndrome. Front Neurol. 2014 Jul 15; 5:124. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4097942/.
            5. Cha YH, Cui Y, Baloh RW. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation for Mal de Debarquement Syndrome. Otol Neurotol. 2013 Jan; 34(1):175-179. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3529198/.
            6. Shou G, Yuan H, Urbano D, Cha YH, Ding L. Changes of symptom and EEG in mal de debarquement syndrome patients after repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation over bilateral prefrontal cortex: a pilot study. Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2014; 2014:4294-7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25570942.

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